Tuesday, October 9, 2012
1) Bynum, William. A Little History of Science. 2012. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 263 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Science is fantastic. It tells us about the infinite reaches of space, the tiniest living organism, the human body, the history of Earth. People have always been doing science because they have always wanted to make sense of the world and harness its power. From ancient Greek philosophers through Einstein and Watson and Crick to the computer-assisted scientists of today, men and women have wondered, examined, experimented, calculated, and sometimes made discoveries so earthshaking that people understood the world—or themselves—in an entirely new way.
This inviting book tells a great adventure story: the history of science. It takes readers to the stars through the telescope, as the sun replaces the earth at the center of our universe. It delves beneath the surface of the planet, charts the evolution of chemistry's periodic table, introduces the physics that explain electricity, gravity, and the structure of atoms. It recounts the scientific quest that revealed the DNA molecule and opened unimagined new vistas for exploration.
Emphasizing surprising and personal stories of scientists both famous and unsung, A Little History of Science traces the march of science through the centuries. The book opens a window on the exciting and unpredictable nature of scientific activity and describes the uproar that may ensue when scientific findings challenge established ideas. With delightful illustrations and a warm, accessible style, this is a volume for young and old to treasure together.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to science.
2) Orenstein, Ronald. Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins: A Natural History. 2012. Firefly Books. Hardbound: 448 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The remarkable adaptations of turtles, tortoises and terrapins have helped them survive for over 200 million years. They are the most wide-ranging of reptiles, found in deserts, forests and the open ocean. But they are also among the world's most endangered animals. They face the multiple threats of habitat destruction, poaching, overhunting (for food and traditional medicines), deadly tangles with fishing lines and capture for the international pet trade. Around the world, turtle populations are under attack on land and sea. Many species are close to extinction and efforts are underway to save them. It is among the main goals of this book to foster awareness about these unique and threatened creatures.
In this new edition, zoologist Ronald Orenstein describes the astonishing ways that turtles cope with their environment. He updates readers on the latest discoveries and explores the debate on origins of the turtle. Every aspect of their evolution, life history and conservation status is presented in 250 photographs and lively text supplemented with numerous maps and a bibliography.
The battle to save turtles goes on. Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins is fascinating, informative and essential for anyone interested in these amazing creatures and concerned about their precarious future.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful reference for turtle people!
3) Pyle, Robert Michael. The Tangled Bank: Writings from Orion. 2012. Oregon State University Press. Paperback: 198 pages. Price: $18.95 U.S. SUMMARY: Robert Michael Pyle’s “Tangled Bank” column appeared in 52 consecutive issues of Orion and Orion Afield magazines between 1997 and 2008. Each essay collected in The Tangled Bank explores Charles Darwin’s contention that the elements of such a bank, and by extension all the living world, are endlessly interesting and ever evolving.
Pyle’s thoughtful and concise narratives range in subject from hops and those who love them to independent bookstores to the monarchs of Mexico. In each piece, Pyle refutes “the idea that the world is a boring place,” sharing his meticulous observations of the endless and fascinating details of the living earth.
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Pyle's other works should enjoy this book.